Feel Your Emotions

Why do we try so hard not to feel? Feelings are real. They are meant to be felt. It frustrates me that people are told that their feelings are not legitimate. That they should hide their feelings. That they feel too much. There is no such thing as feeling too much. Feelings are yours to be felt. If your feelings are intense, they are just that – intense. They are probably intense because you are going through something heavy and serious. We’ve all had traumas in our lives, things that move us to tears. Or maybe things that should move us to tears, but instead we have buried those feelings because we think we don’t have the right to be upset. Maybe there is even a bit of shame associated with your feelings. By blocking them, you only make them come out in other destructive ways.You beat yourself up. You feel the need to hide from your feelings.

All you need to do is feel. Let yourself be swept up in your feelings – no matter how intense. Don’t judge your feelings. Let them exist. If that means you spend two days crying over a friend you lost ten years ago – cry. If that means crying for no apparent reason, and feeling intense feelings of shame and guilt – cry. Don’t get caught up in how you “should” feel – or what other’s have told you is an appropriate response. Just let it all out. Be honest with yourself about how you feel. You may be surprised to find some old wounds or things you thought you were over, are in fact still raw with emotion. That’s fine.

When as a society we try to dictate how people should respond, what’s “appropriate” – what is the “typical” response or grieving period – we do ourselves a disservice. We shame people and make them feel wrong for their feelings, which makes life harder and more confusing. It’s hard to regulate feelings, they exist on their own. They can be strong and powerful. Their job is to guide us. How you feel is a reflection of your soul, of how your thoughts and feelings align with you heart. If you are moved to tears, that can drive you to take action, or it can simply act as a reminder of how important something or someone is. It can force you to reassess your place in the world or how you interact with it. Maybe you’re upset that you blew off a girl and now she’s gone forever – that can help you change the way you interact with people in the future. It can drive you to be better, to act more in alignment with your heart.

If you’re still upset about something that happened ten years ago – that’s fine. You have the right to be upset about things, and don’t let anyone tell you to “get over it” or “move on.” Do things on your own terms – when you’re ready.

It really upsets me that the notion of “mood disorder” even exists. What makes it a disorder? Having emotions and displaying them is normal and healthy. Crying is perfectly normal. Laughing is healthy. You can even do both within minutes of each other, and that’s fine too. I’ve been told I’m moody – and now I have the label “bipolar” – yay for me. I just think of it as being in tune with myself. If I’m upset, you’ll know. I don’t bother trying to mask my emotions. I don’t always cry, in fact, lately I really can’t cry at all. It’s probably the lithium. I think that sucks. I should be able to cry, to feel my emotions. That would be healthy. Masking emotions with medication, I don’t think that’s healthy at all. It buries them and denies them, when in fact there are legitimate emotions that need to be expressed. I should be upset. I should be angry. There is a lot to be upset and angry about it. It’s ok to feel those emotions. It’s ok to feel any emotion. It’s ok to be depressed when nothing seems to be working out. Just feel. That’s what’s real.

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Like Animals

I had a conversation with a friend last night that involved him telling me that he believed people with mental illness are animals. They are not human anymore, he said. They are animals. Do not listen to them. They are not there anymore. You can imagine how this made me feel. I listened to his point of view and honestly, I wasn’t really offended. I felt sorry for him. How could he be so confused…and scared? The only reason I can see someone feeling that way is that they are afraid of their own sanity, they fear that which they don’t understand.

He told me that he doesn’t think I should be exploring the topic of mental health, he doesn’t think I should be volunteering or spending time around mental illness. He thinks it could make me snap. He admitted he is fascinated by psychology – but totally uncomfortable with mental illness. Don’t go there. It’s too scary. People never come back. They become animals.

This friend of mine is no stranger to mental illness – he saw my illness in full swing. He was there the night I lost my mind. He’s been there with me through my recovery. You would think he’d be more comfortable with the whole thing – but he’s not. The funny thing is that he was supportive of my “awakening” leading up to my breakdown. In fact, he even told me he loved my blog and was envious of it. He was there the whole time. The night I lost my mind, he placed a pillow over my head and recited a prayer in a language I did not understand. He was scared. It traumatized him. He was apparently quite the mess when I had to be hospitalized. I think it made him afraid of his own mind.

I guess the reason I wasn’t offended by his “animal” label is because I know what he’s talking about – I just interpret it differently. Whereas he sees mental illness as a loss of the soul, I see it as an embodiment of the soul. You become your soul in the most raw and pure form. Like an animal – you simply exist, you don’t bother with thinking things through, you don’t have preconceived notions of how you should behave. You are just you – like a child. I didn’t feel the need for clothes anymore, but being naked was not a sexual thing, it was simply a shedding of societal norms. There was no concern for how it might be perceived, I just did what felt right. There was no need to hide emotions – I just let them bleed from my soul. If you feel sad, you express it like a child, by crying until you can longer breath, until the tears and the drool merge into one wet sloppy mess. Does that make you an animal? Or does that make you a soul – existing in your body, but without all of the silly notions of normalcy and expectation put on you by society. You are wild and free like an animal. A free spirit in the truest of forms.

I find this to be an exciting notion – to no longer worry about what anyone thinks of you. To just exist as you, a soul in this world. My friend fears it, and I feel sorry for him. You can never understand something if you aren’t willing to embrace it. I don’t know if he’ll ever be comfortable around me, he’ll always look at me and wonder what I’m thinking. He said he was concerned that I remembered how I felt when I lost my mind – that I remembered my thought process. That I could still rationalize my thinking. This disturbed him. I think he’ll always be worried about me slipping back into insanity. And I’ll always be worried about him – ignoring his soul and not embracing his inner child. There is a lot of soul searching and internal work that must be done to be a happy and complete person. Some of it involves digging deep into your soul and looking at yourself with fresh eyes. Being honest with yourself. Letting yourself feel and navigate the world. It can be a dark and scary place inside your mind, inside your soul. But, don’t’ be afraid – work with it, not against it. Try to understand yourself, don’t fear yourself – or your mind. There is no place to hide.

Something More

I can’t simply dismiss what happened to me last year as an illness. Some sort of chemical imbalance. Insanity. Nothing more. Don’t look into it. You were crazy. I don’t believe it.

Something beautiful happened to me. I felt an incredible, overwhelming sense of love. Love for all. A sense of purpose and true bliss. Life was perfect. In that moment. I accepted each moment as it came, with no attachment or expectation. I understood what it was to be a spiritual being. Filled with light and love. Pure of intention and beaming. Strangers on the street approached me, they were drawn to my light. I radiated joy and love.

Of course, it got twisted along the way and I became overwhelmed with grief and anguish. All of the darkness I felt responsible for. Hate and destruction I had unleashed in my past lives. I felt as though I was a vessel, channeling all of the emotions of the world, past and present. I would cry to the point of drooling. Feeling the collective energy and sadness of all the earth’s creatures. It paralyzed me. I dropped to me knees and wailed.

I don’t consider that experience to be bad, it was true. It was real. There is a lot of sadness in this world. I became the ultimate empath, feeling the energies of everything around me. I think it was a blessing. A beautiful, sick blessing. I would never wish it away. Whatever hurt I felt, it was worth it to experience all of the light and love I felt. I hope I feel it again one day. 

Don’t hide

Surrounded by sadness and despair

Why do I have to care?

My heart is wide and open

I want to comfort in the moment

Too many people are sad

They are good people, not at all bad

Why have they been told they’re defective?

They are beautiful, it doesn’t take a detective

I want to scream and yell at those who label

When clearly we are human beings, more than able

The words are on repeat inside our heads

They beat us up, make some wish they were dead

It isn’t fair, do these people even care?

How can you call yourself a doctor

When what you’re doing isn’t proper

We need new answers to our ills

No more taking pills against our will

They’ll convince you it’s what you need

That’s how they plant the seed

But be weary of those who claim to want to help

They’ll take away your soul without a yelp

You must stand strong and look within

Forgot silly notions such as sin

Listen to your heart, it’s been there from the start

Turn inward and let your soul be your guide

That’s the only way to enjoy the ride

Don’t hide

Be You

There is nothing wrong with you. You are a beautiful soul. There is nothing more beautiful or deserving of life’s gifts than you. Forget what society has told you. Maybe your parents or your doctor, or maybe even your spouse has told you that there is something wrong with you. You speak out of turn. You are rude. You don’t act like the other children. You don’t pay attention like you should. You’re a piece of shit. Forget them. They have their own issues to face. We all do. Don’t let their judgement destroy you. This is your life. Your story. You are an amazing being, unique and special. Like no other. Maybe there are things about you that other’s have deemed “less desirable” – that is because they are idiots. The things about you that are the most out of place, the most unique – those qualities are YOU. They should be celebrated. Anyone who disagrees is an asshole and should be ignored. Don’t let them influence you. Love you. Love yourself more than anything else in the world. There is no greater gift than self-love and you deserve it. Take a look in the mirror and look at the beauty that is you. For all your weirdness and eccentricities, you are a glorious piece of work. Don’t try to fit in. Stand out. Be weird. Be you.

Experiences of the Heart

Originally posted on April 23 2012 during my manic phase. I was hospitalized on April 29th for a manic episode. For some reason this post didn’t get transferred from my old blog, so I’m reposting it now.

If you’re wondering how to open your heart I wish I could just offer a simple step by step guide. That would be nice, wouldn’t it? I mean if you’re an asshole – all you’d need to do would be listed out in an easy to follow manual. Unfortunately (or actually…fortunately!) there is no short cut or one size fits all solution here. I’m actually not even sure what triggered this all for me. I’ll list out some events that seem of importance:

–          June of 2012 we had a very serendipitous run in with an artist. I fell in love with the artwork in the hotel and when my husband went to the coffee shop down the street to pick up our morning coffee an interesting man struck up a conversation with him and told him that he had done the artwork in the hotel! Geesh. Pretty unreal, especially because I don’t usually find hotel artwork very interesting! He signed a print of the twin towers – inappropriate? Surely he couldn’t sell them anymore! Ha! No, I think it was part of the sign, the darkness. He signed it “Welcome to the heart” – Later that day we visited garden of the gods in Colorado springs and enjoyed lunch in Manitou Springs. On the way out of town we say flames – it turned out to be one of the worst wildfires in Colorado history. Later that day the whole town was evacuated, it was devastating.

–          February 2013 I was laid off from my job after declaring that I was on the wrong path. I had been searching the internet for things like “how to find your passion” “should I change careers” – clearly I knew what was up. When I was laid off all I kept saying was “Thank you.” My boss didn’t understand and neither did I until I thought about it later. I was truly thankful for the gift of time I had been given and for the chance to reassess my situation.

–          February –April 2013 I have been experiencing all sorts of new states of appreciation and awareness. I have been spending my free time doing nothing – I’ve taken up some of my favorite child activities like coloring (yes in a coloring book!) and dancing around the house naked. It’s been very liberating. I’ve also been reading.

–          I have been exploring intuition and getting more in touch with myself. I even attempted a bit of a soul retrieval based on exploration of that concept. I decided to return to an age when I felt very confused and victimized and angry – 14. I experienced several bad sexual experiences, my parents divorced, my life was in turmoil. I got in to drugs soon after. I meditated and visualized myself returning there, to that time and letting it all go. I wrote an apology letter to myself and invited my spirit back to me. I wanted to be happy again. I told myself that it was ok to return now, the bad trauma was over.

–          Within weeks of this exercise I had a dream about confronting someone who had victimized me. It was a very specific dream and it shook me to my core. A week later I “ran into” this person online. The ensuing conversation changed me forever. This man offered his heart and his openness to me and in return all I could do was forgive him, and thank him for the experience. I mean that from the truest sense and deeply in my heart. I love this man and the experience of learning true forgiveness and love. Perhaps I’ll share more on this experience later.

–          Within days of this experience I realized I was on the wrong career path, and I started listening to my heart. I feel more love in my heart than I ever have and I feel a true oneness and love with everyone and everything – dark and light. Good and evil. Action and inaction. Boldness and shyness.

There have been so many more changes and experiences, but I can’t possible list them all out now. Just know that my life is progressing at a rapid pace and it all began with feeling more open. More love. More sadness. The tears have been flowing and the love has been radiating. Did it come to me or did I draw it to me? I’m not sure, but it is divine. Today is April 23. What will the next weeks and months hold for me…and for you?

Changing Social Classes

Originally posted on April 23 2012 during my manic phase. I was hospitalized on April 29th for a manic episode. For some reason this post didn’t get transferred from my old blog, so I’m reposting it now.

I always thought that changing social class was one of the hardest things a person could do and something that people don’t get nearly enough credit for. Of course, this is rather self-serving since that has been my path. I grew up in a lower middle class family, complete with shared communal sock basket and gallons of generic store brand ice cream available at will. I know it was still a good life, and we Americans can be rather spoiled, but for the sake of story – we were not well off like most Americans! I knew I wanted something more, something else. I would go to friends’ homes and think – these are “those people” with the fancy food in the fridge and the mom with a pretty hairstyle and of course, a nice car and an even nicer home.

We were lucky our car made it down the street to my aunt’s house for Thanksgiving. It wasn’t glamorous.

I knew that if I was going to have better and be more than just another angry person barely scraping by and bitching the whole time I would have to do some things differently.

It wasn’t easy. I pushed myself to be different, to be more like those “other” people, all while secretly hating “those people” and thinking their smiles and laughs were phony. I tried to be a preppy and fit in at school. That didn’t last long. Eventually I got into drugs and started hanging out with “the freaks.” I went on to community college, where I met a few people but mostly stayed to myself. I was already in a committed relationship with my now husband, so it was hard to fit in socially during college.

Eventually I went on to the University of Colorado at Boulder where I fit in about as good as a blueberry in a bag of oranges. It was painful. I felt so out of place and uncomfortable. I had to face a lot of fears and insecurity, but I told myself it would be worth it when I had the nice job and comfortable life – what does that even mean?! Put in the work now, it will pay off! That’s what I’d tell myself and my husband was by my side to cheer me on.

It worked. After graduating with honors and a 3.8 GPA (who is white trash now, bitches!) I went on to do an internship at the most coveted company in my industry. It was something I worked very hard for and I was proud to add it to my resume, but the truth was – I hated every minute of it. I thought if I got into advertising and marketing I’d help change culture – there were good things it could do, that’s what I’d tell myself. I’d make a difference. But I never did. Few people do when they hate their work.

My first paying job was pretty impressive. I worked my way up in a small company by being driven and pushing my creative thoughts and ideas. It was a great job. I got to travel. Meet interesting people. I even spoke at a few conferences. Not bad for a 24 year old. I was certainly changing social classes now! I started dressing better and buying nicer things. Fancy perfume. Expensive restaurants. The latest gadgets. I’m not white trash! Look at me now! Everything was to prove to myself that I had changed social classes. I had made it. Well – not completely. And probably not to “those” people, but I had come a long way and I was proud.

In order to make it that far I had to face a lot of fears and do a lot of internal work. That was fine with me. I’ve always loved self-improvement books and advice. I like to improve myself. That is how I can best contribute to the world. At least, that is what I thought. If I am not one of those angry bitter people, I am making the world a better place. If I am happy and healthy, that’s a better situation for the world than if I am on prescription drugs, laying on the couch playing Farmville and not contributing to society. By being happy and at my best, I’d be contributing. Plus, I’d had the added issues of having to change social class – something I thought deserved recognition and praise. Hey – this shit ain’t easy!

But now I realize that the biggest changing of social classes is the shift from<a href=”http://shaynalashway.com/2013/04/25/dont-break-your-contract/&#8221; target=”_blank”> darkworker</a> to lightworker. I’m just using those terms as my temporary framework, I think they are too polarizing to be true to their essence. Still, no doubt I would be considered a darkworker by most people. I was gaining power and radiating energy – but only for my own gain and happiness. Is that evil? I don’t think so, but you can judge for yourself. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with the darkworker path. I think wanting to improve yourself and be happy is a worthy cause and it certainly pushes society further along than those apathetic masses! So, don’t’ beat yourself up. I’m not embarrassed or shamed by my path. It’s been incredible. Those who refuse the dark will never truly know the light!

I’m integrating the light and the dark now and I feel sorry for those who refuse to accept their full reality. Something incredible is happening to me, and while I may be feeding it and working with it, it came from outside me. My heart is opening, I feel an amazing and genuine love like never before. The best way for me to describe it is – before, I felt like I had “god” in me,  (we all do!) and it was my mission to serve “god”, also known as me 🙂 Now, I feel like a servant of the greater energy. My inspiration is divine and it is my mission to carry out what is being fed to me. I am here to serve the greater good. This is a fundamental shift. It isn’t just a mental one either. I’ve been having lots of physical symptoms too – random bouts of crying, new sleep patterns, sweating and shaking, inability to eat like before and intense feelings of joy, gratitude and love. Let the light in. It feels amazing.